edJEWcon Cleveland- Save the Date: November 16

September 18, 2014 in 2014, Announcements, edJEWcon CLE by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano


sponsored by JECC and the Schechter Network with a grant from the Avichai Foundation.

November 16, 2014

Cleveland, Ohio
Gross Schechter Day School

Head of School:
Dr. Ari Yares
27601 Fairmount Blvd, Cleveland, 
OH 44124

edJEWcon is a conference based on 21st century professional development where attendees can experience a Jewish day school in transition to becoming a dynamic 21st century learning environment.  We are sharing a vision of teaching and learning that transcends physical boundaries and connects across geographic borders and time zones.


We are pleased to announce Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano as our keynote speaker for 
edJEWcon 5774.3- Cleveland, a Jewish learning and leadership conference.

Silvia is an International educational consultant, a leader in Modern Literacies, a co-author in Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ books “Mastering Digital Literacy”, “Mastering Global Literacy” and one of the co-founders of edJEWcon.

Read more about Silvia’s work on her website Globally Connected Learning or follow her on her blog
and Twitter

The 5 Cs 
in Jewish Education
Critical Thinking


Building a Professional Development Hub for your School

August 26, 2014 in Guides by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Teachers and administrators struggle to find time to work together in a meaningful way. There are plenty of meetings scheduled. Many teachers leave these meetings though with the feeling of “could have spent my time doing more important things”.

How do we squeeze in one more meeting to help teachers grow as professionals? How do we add one more opportunity for teachers to learn important new skills, listen to one more educational consultant, one more expert on a new initiative? How do we give teachers the time to learn with and from their own colleagues? How can teachers learn from what is going on in the classroom next door?

I am a strong advocate for educators experiencing the type of learning they want to expose, inspire, support in their students’ learning.

If education for the “now” and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  • to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  • to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  • to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  • to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  • to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network  capabilities”
  • to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  • to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school as a platform will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.


Building_a_PD_community_at_your_schoolAn online PD Hub moves teacher learning into the “Now”, away from one-size-fits all professional development, away from Tuesday’s faculty meeting at 3 pm, away from sitting through professional development workshops that are not relevant to one’s students or subject areas.

Building_a_PD_hub-whyWhy would you want to invest time and resources into building an online professional development hub for your school?

  • Anytime
    Professional development can happen in your pajamas on a Sunday morning or (if you are a night person) at 10 pm at night. Teachers can learn in small chunks of time… 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there… without having to sit through an extended period of time at the end of a long day of work or on a scheduled workshop at 8 am on a weekend.
  • Anywhere
    Learning happens not only in the faculty lounge, media center, at a workshop venue or in a conference room. It can happen at home, in your car (listening to a podcast), waiting at a doctor’s office or at your children’s swim practice or dance lessons. Professional development also does not only happen locally, but teachers can connect to colleagues and learning opportunities around the world.
  • Sharing
    Ewan McIntosh said ” Sharing and sharing online specifically is not in addition to the work of an educator, it is THE work”. Educators are inherently people who share their knowledge. Technology enables us to share at a larger scale, beyond students who are physically in the same place at the same time. Web 2.0 tools give us the ability to create, publish and disseminate what we want to share with a world wide audience. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are built on the fact that educators will share and contribute to the network as much as they are “taking” from it.
  • Curating
    The word “curation” was taken from the context of a museum curator, who selects, organizes, and presents artifacts to the public using his/her professional knowledge. The school’s PD hub becomes the place (“museum”) for curated information, especially selected, organized and presented by professional educators for each other.
  • Crowdsource
    Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. David Weinberger said: “The smartest person in the room is…. the room”. Harvesting the collective experience of teaching and learning in your school community is worth enlisting all members of your school. It is about taking advantage of a platform that supports and encourages contributions and collaboration through experiences, perspectives and educational data.
  • Engage in conversation
    Many teachers are completely isolated in their classrooms. There is seldom time to chat with colleagues, conversations are cut short by the bell ringing, the next meeting, car pool duty or students needing additional help after class. Meetings are taken up with administrative issues and endless paperwork to be completed. A hub, designed to foster and support conversation among administration and faculty, allows educators to engage in a conversation in their own time, their own space, their interests and at their own level. It also fosters an important modern skill of being able to ” engage colleagues through the use of technology. It’s vital that we educators explore the use of digital PLC’s and the learning that can come from the connections”.
  • Making learning visible
    A PD hub, is a platform to house a myriad of media (text, images, slide decks, videos, audio files, etc.) that showcases and makes the learning taking place at the school visible. Teachers share student learning as well as their own learning by making it visible for others to read, view or listen to.



Characteristics of an Online PD Hub for Schools. A hub is:

  • shared
    Sharing of resources is the beginning, sharing of successes and failures in our professional practices to receive feedback is the next.
  • documented
    By documenting (taking the time to writing down  reflecting on teaching and learning) and sharing the documentation provides evidence of a process and created artifacts.
  • searchable
    The documentation is not scattered, nor available to just a few members of the school community, but is collected in one place that is searchable for all for future evidence and connections.
  • archived
    Resources, artifacts and reflection of learning do not disappear after a project, a book study, a webinar or a workshop is over, but are being archived for later retrieval to be searched, built upon and connected to future professional development learning.
  • open for feedback
    Sharing openly and transparently online (even on a closed school PD hub) adds the component of being able to receive feedback for your contributions from other members of the hub. The feedback cycle becomes an important component in the school PD hub for motivation, continuously extending your thinking and work.
  • an aid in the process of writing and reflection
    Every teacher is a writing teacher. Every teacher strives to help their students reflect on their learning. John Dewey said: “We don’t learn from experiences, but from reflecting on the experience”.  Teachers have little opportunity or take the time to continue to write and reflect on their own. A PD hub gives teachers the platform and the “excuse” to practice and hone their writing and reflection skills to then be able to take these skills and translate them into their classroom and teaching.



  • Time
    There is never enough time in the life of an educator. Building a Professional Development Hub for your school will raise hairs on the backs (and resistance) of many just by thinking that it is one more thing to add to their plate. It is imperative to make it clear to members of your school community, that the time invested is of importance and will replace time spent on a different task. It is also important to clarify that in the beginning, a learning curve when reading, sharing, reflecting on the the hub is to be expected. The time invested now will pay off later.
  • Basic Tech Skills
    Building an online Professional Development hub for your school is challenging if the majority of your faculty lacks basic technology skills. With basic skills, such as password and login management, typing skills, a certain fluency in reading and writing on a digital platform, etc. The lack of these skills seem to make the transition to a digital environment for learning filled with high obstacles and too far to reach.
    I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?- Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate,  are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities. It is a subtle change, one that can be masked by surrounding yourself with colleagues  and administrators who do not value  nor take advantage of the transformational opportunities in teaching and learning through technology.
  • Embed Culture of Reflection
    If a school does not value reflection as part of the learning process or educators are not used to sharing their reflection, embedding reflection in your online PD hub will be a challenge. Teachers and administrators need to see the value and benefits for their own learning and growth. This does not happen overnight, nor by writing 1 reflective post. Learning about the value of a reflection over time to demonstrate growth TAKES time.
    According to Carol Rodgers in  Defining Reflection :Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking, four criteria emerge from Dewey’s work that characterize reflection:
    Reflection is a meaning making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and its connections to other experiences and ideas. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous way of thinking, with its roots in scientific inquiry.
    Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others
    Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.(further reading: Reflection in the learning process, not as a an add-on, Reflect…Reflecting… Reflection, The Reflective School by Peter Pappas)
  • Not comfortable with sharing
    While sharing has always come natural to me, this might not be the case for all your teachers at your school. Some educators are not comfortable in sharing their success or failures. Reasons behind these feelings have been “I don’t want to brag”, “There is nothing I could share that has not been shared before”, “There is noting I can think of”, or ” I am a perfectionist, I could not possibly write down what I do”, “I am worried/afraid people will judge me/my writing/my spelling/my opinions/my teaching/etc.”
    The fact of potentially receiving feedback, embeds a different mindset when authoring and sharing material and documentation. Many are not used to that kind of open and transparent feedback.
  • Building a Culture of Sharing
    How do we move from “never having thought about sharing my work, my reflections, my successes and failures, to a culture where sharing is deeply embedded how we work, learn and teach together. Not an easy task to build that culture, to make the act of sharing part of the fabric of our school?
    (further reading: Sharing and Amplification Ripple Effect, The Power and Amplified Reach of Sharing, Sharing in Education- Is it Changing?, There is a responsibility of sharing among Educators, It’s All About Sharing & Collaborating)
  • Self- Directed Learning
    Schools, universities and continued education opportunities of pre-internet days as students have groomed us to sign up, show up, listen and receive credit as proof that we were present. With the growth of the Internet, social media platforms, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), personal learning networks (PLN) blogs, wikis, etc, the learner is in charge WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW to learn. Materials are not pre-chosen, resoures are not stagnant or quickly outdated, a myriad of media is available to match one’s learning style. It is a challenge and struggle for educators and schools to transition to a new mind shift, where professional development is NOT chosen for them, but self-directed. Self-directed also requires the increasingly important skill of staying focused and the capability to select and filter an increasingly overwhelming information landscape.
  • Self-Motivated Learning
    Closely related to self-directed learning is being self-motivated. The opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere and anyhow brings with it the challenge of intrinsic motivation. What happens when there is no roll-call, not physical presence required and a certain anonymity of what has been read, how much time was spent in working through resources and conversation threads?  How much participation of the individual contributed to the overall connected learning of the group?
  • Quality Contributions
    Having a professional development hub for your school and having your teachers contribute to the hub with resources, blog posts, images and videos does not necessarily equal quality contributions. It is imperative to clarify for teachers what is considered “quality” for your school community. Does a comment ” I like what you shared” constitute “quality”? Does it contribute to the value of the original post? Does complaining about students or parents enrich learning for your school community? What contributions enrich the school’s learning community and what might teachers add that distract from learning, are unprofessional in nature or contribute to a culture of bullying, passive aggressiveness and negativism?
  • Clear Expectations
    Taking all the above mentioned challenges in consideration, it becomes important for administrators to set clear expectations for their faculty, if an online PD hub is to be successful. Will it be mandatory to participate? How much participation is expected? What happens, if a teacher chooses to not participate? What are consequences? Will there be consequences? What basic technology skills are expected/ required of faculty to be able to participate as a full member of the online community? What is the expectation of professionalism? Who will moderate, re-enforce these expectations? How will you set and communicate expectations of quality contributions?




  1. Choose a Platform
    There are many platforms to choose from for your online PD hub for your school. There is no right or wrong decision which one you will choose. I would suggest you choosing the same platform, that you are or will be using for your students. It makes all the sense in the world to have your teachers experiences and work with the same platform your students will be working with. Questions to ask when choosing the platform (to make sure the platform has the capability to accommodate your requirements): Will it be an open to the world or a closed to only members of a specific (school) community platform? Does the platform have potential for future growth? How much technology know-how do you need to set up and maintain the platform? How much will it cost?
    (Examples of PD platforms: WordPress Multi-user site (self hosted), Edmodo, edublogs, Eduplanet21, Ning,Google Plus)
  2. Build Content
    It is essential, especially in the beginning, to start building content on your community. It is hard for beginners, with little or no experience in online learning to envision the potential of the hub when nothing has been shared, no conversation has taken place and no visible evidence of a return investment to the time you are asking them to spend on the platform. It is worth the effort to invest in starting to populate resource areas, share downloadable and demonstrate how quality contributions might look like. You might also want to strategically ask specific members (more experienced ones with online learning) of your community to contribute in order to make “how it could look like “visible for others.
  3. Set Expectations
    Expectations can represent a challenge (see above). The clearer the expectations are for your school’s online professional development hub, the more successful the hub might become. Without set and communicated expectations, many hubs have fizzled out and did not fulfill the learning needs of the community. Once these expectations are communicated to members, revisit them often, embed them in conversations, in faculty meetings and faculty communications. If a pedagogical success, not only the mere existence of such online hub has become a priority and is to be part of the fabric of professional development at your school, expectations cannot disappear as yet another momentary initiative allowing members to fly under a radar.
  4. Model Use
    Administrators, especially a principal or head of school, are lead learners of a school community. In order to model good practices, their presence, participation and involvement is crucial on your online PD hub. Administrators model quality contribution, feedback and sharing, important characteristics of a flourishing online community. The mere presence and involvement of administrators, not only models, but also communicates clearly the shift of self-directed and motivated learning in digital places. Outside the digital learning platform, every opportunity should be taken to “demonstrate the value found with your digital [learning hub]” and strategically identify learning taking place as a result of connections made through the PD hub.
  5. Support Basic Tech Skills
    Different levels of comfort and fluency in regards to basic technology skills will be among your faculty. Make sure you have a system in place to support various levels. Walk in tech support, available step-by-step tutorials in paper form or for download, video tutorials of basic support involved in consuming, producing and contributing via the online hub. There is also the possibility of establishing a buddy system to connect less savvy teachers with mentors/coaches to support and guide the in becoming participating and active members of the school PD hub.
  6. Make Learning Visible
    What could you share on your online professional development hub? Resources, links to articles, book reviews, etc.? What makes YOUR SCHOOL’S hub unique, if members start sharing the learning that is taking place in their classroom with their students and in their own learning as educators. It is natural step to start Documenting FOR Learning and to share that learning in a visible way in a variety of media platforms (text, images, audio, video, etc.)





Flipped Learning: Webinar with Smadar Goldstein

August 18, 2014 in 2014, videos by Andrea Hernandez

As a follow-up to edJEWcon Florida, Smadar Goldstein of JETS Israel gave a webinar on flipped classrooms on August 7th. Here are slides and recording from that webinar.

Flipped Classroom from edJEWcon on Vimeo.



More PowerPoint presentations from edJEWcon

Learning2Learn on Eduplanet 21: Webinar with Silvia Tolisano & Andrea Hernandez

July 15, 2014 in 2014, Announcements, eduplanet21, videos by Andrea Hernandez

Calling all faculty from Schechter schools: Schechter is working with eduplanet 21 to offer FREE, high quality professional development designed specifically for Jewish Day School educators. In this webinar, edJEWcon co-founders, Silvia Tolisano and Andrea Hernandez highlight  features of learning via this platform.

CMI2014: Virtual, Global Conference

June 11, 2014 in 2014, Announcements by Andrea Hernandez


FREE, High-Quality Professional Development for Schechter Schools

June 11, 2014 in Announcements by Andrea Hernandez

We are excited to share with you a fantastic, free-of-cost opportunity for summer and year-long professional development. Schechter Network is offering high-quality, self-directed courses designed specifically for Jewish Day School educators. These “learning paths” include content that is relevant to both Jewish and general studies and are open to any interested faculty member at any Schechter school. They are completed online, asynchronously for your convenience.

 Silvia Tolisano and Andrea Hernandez,  edJEWcon co-founders and directors will be presenting a webinar on Thursday, June 12th at 11 AM ET to provide an overview of the rich PD opportunities that are available to you as a member of the Schechter Institute on eduplanet 21.
Please share this information with anyone at your schools who may be interested. 
Email esaphire@schechternetwork.org to sign up. 
We hope to see you there!
Andrea and Silvia

ReFraming Jewish Education in Supplementary Schools

May 15, 2014 in Announcements, Uncategorized by Andrea Hernandez

There is so much innovation happening right now in Jewish education. A revolution is taking place, and Jewish educators are striving to find what works. Our two edJEWcons, in 2012 and 2013, at MJGDS were a great success. In 2014, LA and South Florida hosted regional “mini” edJEWcons. We are working (and playing) with ideas for the future of edJEWcon, wondering how to be use and direct the exciting energy in Jewish educational circles.

As the edJEWcon website is a hub for learning and reflection, we occasionally receive requests to feature posts from organizations whose missions are of like mind. One of these is ReFrame, a project of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson School of Education. Through ReFrame, JTS guides Jewish educational leaders to plan new learning models that draw on the best of camps, Israel trips, and other immersive experiences. Similar to edJEWcon, ReFrame hopes to transform Jewish school experiences into dynamic 21st century learning environments.

Check out the Reframe website and watch the Camp + Hebrew School at the Drawing Board video to learn more about ReFrame.

ReFrame | William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education

edJEWcon Summary Booklet

May 24, 2013 in 2013 by edJEWcon

Steve Hargadon’s Closing Keynote SlideDeck

May 6, 2013 in 2013 by edJEWcon

Entrepreneurialism, Student Voices and Authentic Work

May 5, 2013 in 2013 by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Our 4th and 5th grade students(9-10 year olds) have been working with Mike Fisher, co-author of Upgrading your Curriculum and author of children’s poems. The goal of their collaboration is to create an eBook of Mike’s poems with students’ illustrations. Once produced, students will work on marketing, advertising and disseminating the eBook. Over the course of the last few months, they:

  • emailed
  • skyped
  • tweeted
  • blogged
  • worked on shared Google Docs

in order to:

  • introduce themselves to each other
  • hold a conversation about their ideas and upcoming work
  • document their work
  • disseminate their work
  • give and receive feedback

Mike wrote about his experience up until now in detail on his blog post Contextual and Authentic

Then, we discovered something. Something big.
Because of the depth of instruction and the built in time to negotiate new roles for the students and the upgrade of seeing themselves as collaborators rather than passive learners, we struck oil! Silver! Gold! Students began to self identify interests that were related to their planned learning and lead us down paths of unplanned learning that enriched the designed project.

I have been using the experience to take a closer look at upgrading assessment in modern learning environments.

Learning is amplified by the amount of people who are collaborating, participating, communicating and creating. The learning is NOT about the technology tools, but what students can DO with them to learn in new ways. The learning is about an authentic tasks, that allows students to contribute in a individualized and personalized manner to make them realize that their work matters in the real world.

In my recent post of  Students Are Speed Geeking at edJEWcon, I highlighted the need  and an example of exposing and involving our students in authentic learning experiences. There was another opportunity for our students to participate and share their learning with conference attendees, when Mike Fisher and our students were able to meet in person for the first time, as he was traveling as a presenter to Jacksonville.


The session “Modern Learning”, facilitated by Mike himself and Stephanie Teitelbaum, their language Arts teacher, focused, not necessarily on the students as teachers of teachers (as did the SpeedGeeking), but on the collaboration journey between adults and students, the authentic learning that has unfolded and will continue to develop for the rest of the school year and into next year.

Session Description: Modern Learning

Come and see what students learn
When we change the roles and rules.
Come and see what students do
With modern learning tools.
See the process and the product,
The depth and the extension,
The whole collaborative way we worked,
And our new inventions.
Prepare to be amazed and awed
By our globally connected team.
Join us as we launch the next phase
Of our collaborative dream.

Six students were selected to be part of a panel to explain the different jobs they held during Skype calls and to talk about the process of developing the idea of the eBook.


Each student created a few slides in a collaborative Google Presentations to be able to visually share with the attendees the poem, their corresponding illustration and any artifact that showed their role in the collaboration process.


At the end of the session, attendees were treated to a sneak preview of the eBook.


All students were eloquent in sharing their learning, but one in particular surprised us with her statement of “It’s not one and done” when referring to the importance, care and quality of the work they are doing. She pointed out that the work is not done until it is done, which most likely will continue next school year.

Take a “read” at the tweets below coming from the audience during the session:





WE are on a path to experiencing authentic learning. I say WE on purpose, since teachers are experiencing this kind of learning alongside with our students. I don’t know about your experiences, but I don’t remember learning in this shape or form when I was going to school. I don’t remember authentic learning EVER coming up in my educational classes at the University.

Steve Hargadon, our closing keynote speaker at edJEWcon, was talking about the need for preparing our students for entrepreneurialism.

commonly used to describe an individual who organizes and operates a business

Better yet, think John Dewey (“Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.“) when we not only prepare students for entrepreneurialism, but letting them live and experience it in school.

Our students are excited and ready to be in business. In the Book Publishing business! Now that the content is created, they are working on writing their resumes in order to apply for different positions that will put them in charge of leading or being hired to work under the

  • Publishing Department
    How do we prepare/format the eBook or a Hard Copy? What are the terms of self-publishing services (Lulu.com/iTunes/Amazon, etc.)
  • Financial Department
    How much will it cost to produce and publish the book?How much is feasible to charge for the eBook/hard copy? What will be cut for the author? The School? What are some projections?
  • Marketing Department
    How will the product be marketed? Disseminated? Who is a potential audience? Should we organize a local book tour to promote the book?
  • Graphic Designers
    How will we produce flyers to be physically distributed to our local bookstore, among the school community?
  • Writers
    How will we write press-releases to be placed on classroom blogs, the school website? How can we promote the book through strategically written Tweets? What are other venues/platforms to contribute in writing? Guest blogging?
  • Multimedia Team
    How will we produce multimedia (book trailers, commercials, etc.) to help advertise the product?

If you have made it this far in reading the blog post. Ask yourself, HOW could you amplify these young entrepreneurs to LEARN through real life experiences?

  • Would you be willing to consult with them, if you have any life experience in any of the departments mentioned above?
  • Would you skype in for a few minutes to give them advice?
  • Could you help the financial department in figuring out how much would you be willing to pay for their poetry book?
  • Could you imagine a potential audience our marketing department could target?
  • Are we forgetting a vital part of our business structure?
  • Do you have any other thoughts or tips for us? (Please leave a comment)

By the way… anyone still think this is about technology or learning specific tools, platforms or apps (Google Docs, Skype, Twitter, Blogging, Comic Life, Pixie, iMovie, Skitch, etc.)